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Nov 2011

Management control for sustainability strategy

This study develops a conceptual framework to understand the roles and uses of control systems in the integration of sustainability within organisational strategy. It highlights the importance of integrating sustainability within management control rather than simply relying on discourse to deliver a triple rather than a single bottom line.

Sustainability has moved from the margins to the mainstream. Concern with the intra-generational justice; inter-generational or global justice and the balance of economic, social and environmental criteria is no longer confined to fringe groups and academics. Sustainability increasingly preoccupies governments as a result of their greater awareness of threats to their national and collective sustainability. In part due to the resultant governmental regulatory ambition but also due to threats to their own sustainability and to opportunities for innovation and cost reduction, companies are increasingly adopting the rhetoric of concern with sustainability. Now we move from the question as to whether business should engage with sustainability to how these challenges can be addressed. Our report contributes to this latter question area,specifically by focusing on the use of management control for sustainability strategy.

The case studies presented not only provide a clearer understanding of the actual and potential role of control systems but also underline the increasingly important role of management accountants in the development and deployment of sustainability strategy.

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Management control for sustainability strategy